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Jenny Craig Shuffles Ad Duties

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Weight-loss retailer Jenny Craig is changing the shape of its advertising partnerships, launching a review for its $25 million media planning and buying business, currently at Carat, and shifting its creative account from Doner to Johnson/ Ukropina.

"It's not that we're unhappy with Carat," said Barbara Barry, Jenny Craig vp of marketing and corporate communications. "It's just good business every three years to take a look and see what's out there."

Carat's Los Angeles office has handled Jenny Craig since 1998, when it won the business from the company's longtime media buyer, the former Western International Media. Carat is expected to defend the account.

Barry said the La Jolla, Calif.-based advertiser is looking mostly at West Coast agencies, but would consider shops outside the region. National and regional agencies will be contacted.

Barry also noted that the company has an existing relationship with Bcom3's Starcom, which handles Jenny Craig in Australia.

Barry estimated the search will take one to two months.

Separately, the company has parted ways with its creative shop, Doner, after only six months. The Southfield, Mich., agency won the business after a review late last year that included incumbent Suissa Miller and Campbell-Ewald in L.A. and Siltanen/Keehn in Santa Monica, Calif. [Adweek, Nov. 13].

The account has moved to Johnson/Ukropina in Irvine, Calif., without a review.

"I think distance was a part of it," Barry said about ending the relationship with Doner. "We have a very unique business. We're not the typical retail operation."

Earlier this month, Jenny Craig announced it was considering a possible sale and hired L.A. investment banker Koffler & Co. to advise on the process.

Barry said those developments would not inhibit the media search and might ultimately add billings for the eventual winner.

"It really isn't going to affect us at all," she said. "It's business as usual. If anything, if we get a strategic partner, we may get more money [for ad spending]. We're expanding internationally, just opened up in Guam, and we are looking at other markets."

The company currently operates more than 650 weight-loss centers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico.